Over the next few months, I will follow up with writers previously interviewed about their work. Today's Blog Post is a follow-up with Lissa Brown whose interview for her first book, Another F-Word was posted as Entry # 152 on this blog. Since that interview, Lissa's book won an award from a North Carolina Writer's Group, High Country Writers Book of the Year and she has just completed a sequel to Another F-Word, titled, Family of Choice. Details for ordering a future signed copy can be found at the end of this interview on links to Lissa's website.
|At Sea Again - Photo Credit Jan Bowman - 2014|
Tell us about your
Lissa: I have just completed the sequel
to Another F-Word. My working title
is Family of Choice. Right now, it’s up in the air whether I self-publish as I
have done with three previous books, or go the traditional route. I have had an
expression of interest from a publisher and am awaiting his response. Family of Choice follows Rory Calhoun
Wilson into the next phase of his life. He is now a medical doctor practicing
in Baltimore, living with his partner, Nimo. Rory faces two major challenges:
how and whether to resolve his miserable relationship with his father, the
person who punished Rory for being gay, and whether he should legally adopt
Nimo’s biological children from a former marriage. The story is set at the time
when Marylanders are considering whether or not to approve Question 6,
legalizing same-sex marriage.
Jan: What have you
learned about the marketing aspect of publishing with your first three books?
Lissa: First, I must confess that I come at marketing from a different
perspective than many writers. I was a professional marketer for much of my
paid-working life. That said, marketing books is very different. I’ve
discovered that certain genres are much easier to market than others. My first
book, Real Country: From the Fast Track
to Appalachia, is a humorous memoir of our first 18 months living in an
alien culture after being city women for most of our lives. It’s still a hit
with tourists to the area of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC where I live.
People considering retiring to a different place also relate. Local mountain
folks find it interesting to see their environment from an outsider’s
perspective. Those are the audiences to whom I have to pitch that book.
When I wrote Family Secrets: Three
Generations, a YA novel, I had to seek out women in their 60s and 70s who
remember the experiences of growing up in the 1940s and 1950s. Further, the
protagonist is Jewish, so I sought out publications and locations that targeted
Jewish people. Since I was portraying the angst of experiencing adolescence, I
looked for psychologists who could review that book on Amazon.com figuring
they’d give the writing greater credibility.
Another F-Word had an
altogether different purpose. Of course, I wanted readers to find it
entertaining, but more important; I wanted to get across the idea that bullying
of LGBT kids is life-threatening. The secondary message in that book is that
entire families can be destroyed by it. A third message is that it’s critical
for LGBT kids to have mentors and others who have their backs. I devoted an
entire year after its publication to traveling and speaking to youth groups,
church congregations, school counselors and others who might benefit from
heightened awareness of how vulnerable LGBT kids are to bullying. I sought and
obtained reviews in LGBT publications and attended conferences where I thought
the book would have special appeal.
Family of Choice will appeal
to LGBT parents, so I will tailor much of my marketing to that audience. It
carries forward the consequences of bullying, so I’ll return to the market I
cultivated for Another F-Word.
In summary, each book will
have a particular group of marketing targets. I prefer the rifle approach
rather than the shotgun. Pardon the gun reference, but those are marketing
terms. I do not waste time doing signings in places where my target audiences
don’t congregate. Since I’d prefer to be writing instead of hawking books, I
try to make my time away from writing count.
Jan: As you
go out and speak to educators and readers about your book, Another F-Word, what are the most common questions?
Lissa: Parents often ask what they
should do if the bully is a teacher or principal. It’s an important question,
and as a former teacher I know it has a solid basis in fact. That’s sad, but
Kids frequently pose questions that imply
a lack of support from adults who choose to ignore bullying. They include
school officials, parents, clergy and others who are responsible for keeping
children safe. Another commonly asked question from kids deals with how much
risk they should take to stand up for a victim of bullying. They prize their
social status highly and know they jeopardize it when they go to bat for
Since many of the groups I’ve spoken to
are in the South, several questions relate to bigoted church leaders. I don’t
hesitate to advise those who disagree with the religiously-inspired bigotry to
confront the offender and if necessary to leave the church and find one that models
more humane values.
|Clouds & Sea Shadows - Jan Bowman - 2014|
Jan: What has heartened you
in your travels about the changing landscape of being gay and out in the South?
Lissa: The fact that I’m struggling to
answer this speaks volumes. First, I am able to be out in the South because I
no longer need to hold a paying job. If I did have to work, it would be a
different story. Naturally, the urban areas contain more foreward-thinking
people on the issue of civil rights for LGBT people. But even in a rural
Appalachian area like the one where I live, there are brave people who are
willing to put their tolerant views out publically.
Maryland, while geographically
considered part of the South, is a far different place from other southern
states. The fact that it remains the only state whose voters have approved
same-sex marriage speaks to its liberal nature, but even Maryland has pockets
of voters who vehemently oppose equal rights for LGBT people. Note the Eastern
Shore, Southern Maryland, Western Maryland and a considerable part of the
population of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties and Baltimore.
At this point, I see equality
being achieved through federal actions, and the South will have to be dragged
kicking and screaming into compliance.
Jan: What’s next? Do you have
any new projects in the works?
Lissa: I’m giving serious thought to
writing a lesbian romance. I have an idea for a story and might tackle it. I’ll
have to do a lot of reading before I can write. I confess I have not read many
lesbian romances. If I do try it, I doubt I’ll be bringing the manuscript to my
writer’s group for critiquing. It might be a bit much for them. Anyone out
there know of a critique group for that genre?
much for your work to help other writers, Jan. I appreciate your help.
Until I decide, I’ll write occasional
essays for anthologies and try to create a blog. For now, I have all I can do
to keep my website, www.lissabrownwrites.com
updated. My books are all available at Amazon.com under my name except the
first one, Real Country
. I wrote that under a pen name, Leslie Brunetsky. Since the
readers of your blog tend toward the more literate, I’d especially welcome
comments from them if they read any of my books. They can reach me at email@example.com
I’m happy to talk privately with anyone considering relocating to the South.
They should send an email, and we can swap phone numbers.
|Jan - Off Coast of Ireland|
About Jan Bowman
Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, Jan's stories have been nominated
for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short
Stories, and a Pen/O’Henry award. Glimmer Train named a recent
story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New
A recent story was a
finalist for the 2013 Broad
River Review RASH Award for Fiction,
another story was a 2013 finalist in the Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in
To Speak” Fiction Contest. Jan’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review,
Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97),
Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others. She is working on
two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed
story collection, Mermaids & Other
Stories. She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews
with writers and publishers. Learn
more at: www.janbowmanwriter.com or visit